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Where are they now: Tony Lormor

7 March 2013

From putting fans on seats as a player, to putting fans on seats by selling them tickets isn't the route many former footballers take - but that's where Tony Lormor finds himself today.

Lormor spent 15 years in the professional game and turned out for 10 Football League clubs before winding down his career in non-league football.

Now he is in the npower Championship with Derby County - as a member of the Rams' proactive group ticket sales team.

"The easiest way of putting it is that we engage with local teams," Lormor, now 42, explained.

"The job is to sell groups of tickets and we do that through junior football teams, girls' teams, boys' teams, youth teams, men's teams and local businesses.

"I enjoy it because you are engaging with the community and the club are reaching out to them. It brings everyone a little closer together and you can see the benefits when you see the youngsters and how they enjoy their days.

"You can see the number of clubs who have taken it on but we were the first ones to do it. It is huge in America, it's massive in the MLS, and it's something we have had to tailor to the more English audience.

"The comparison with us is that they do a lot with businesses. Businesses will come out as a family, whereas here it's quite difficult to get businesses to come out as when it gets to the end of the week people want to go and spend time with their families, so a good way to grow the sale of tickets is through kids football."

Derby have been running the scheme since the summer of 2008, a few months after they were taken over by their current American-based owners, and Lormor originally joined the sales team from the off.

Prior to that he had been the commercial manager at Mansfield Town, one of his old clubs as a player, and it was his commercial experience and know-how that led him back to Pride Park. And he is back in the swing of things with the Rams.

"I have had sales jobs before where you pick up the phone and you might get one in 100 speak to you, whereas here you ring 100 people and probably get one person who isn't interested.

"What we try to do is give people a matchday experience that exceeds what they believe they might get.

"As well as them getting tickets in bulk at a discount, we make it a money-can't-buy experience for the kids and we find that the parents enjoy it just as much as the kids do.

"The younger ones can get access to Rammie [the Rams' official club mascot] and take penalties, and they will get access around the pitch so when the lads are warming up before the game they will see the players.

"We do parades, we have flag-bearers, we have the player escorts too for the younger fans. And we also have a ground tour we can do and access to five-a-side pitches so the older lads can have a kick-around.

"It is a very interesting role. It is almost like looking at your own little business you can grow as you are looking after people, giving good customer service and value for money, and trying to exceed their expectations by giving them a money-can't-buy experience on a matchday that they wouldn't get elsewhere."

Simply being around a football club again is satisfying for Lormor, who admits it is something he "has always known and always enjoyed".

It is a far cry from when he finished playing, as he took some time away from the game, choosing not to go into full-time coaching or management like several of his peers - although he did later become a match official, progressing as far as running the line in what is now the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League, before blowing the whistle on that venture.

"I was quite disillusioned with football when I finished, and I did nothing [in the game] for about two or three years," Lormor added.

"A lot of jobs in football come from people you know and relationships you have made, and in that time I had out I had lost a few contacts.

"I have done a bit of coaching in kids football, and the university in Newcastle - just bits and bobs really. A couple of lads I played with have gone on to have coaching jobs, like John Schofield and Grant Brown, and they have made a really good career out of it.

"That is probably a bit of a frustration but it is what it is. You can't have any regrets with what you do and at the minute I'm in a good place, I'm happy.

"I would like to get back into coaching and I spoke to the Derbyshire FA about getting back into refereeing as that is another avenue to stay in football."

It is hardly a surprise that someone who made his senior debut as a Newcastle United player in 1988 and played his last game as a professional in 2002 before dropping into the non-league game is so passionate about his football.

Ashington-born Lormor also had spells at Norwich City, on loan, Lincoln City, Peterborough United, Chesterfield, Preston North End, another loan at Notts County, Mansfield, Hartlepool United and Shrewsbury Town, where he made his 441st and final professional appearance before joining Telford United,

He scored 124 goals during his time as a player and has fond memories from each club he was at.

He said: "Every day was fantastic because it was all I ever wanted to do, though you don't really appreciate it until you actually finish.

"It is a hard job but in reality it is a very cushy job with the hours you work, the wages at that time were still good, and you got a lot of adulation if you did well.

"I have got loads of good memories and even from when I signed for Preston, where I played 12 games and was voted their worst ever player.

"But I tell everyone that because, just as much as playing and scoring at Wembley, and my time at Newcastle, it's a part of life and a learning experience."

Lormor is perhaps best remembered as a player for his time at Chesterfield, where he spent three years before that ill-fated move to Preston in exchange for David Reeves, a fan favourite at Deepdale.

His arrival at Chesterfield in December 1994 coincided with the Spireites going on a long unbeaten run - only ending when Lormor missed a crucial penalty in a game - but ultimately he made up for that with one of the goals that beat Bury 2-0 in the 1995 Fourth Division Play-Off Final at Wembley.

He was also a part of the Chesterfield squad that reached the FA Cup semi-final against Middlesbrough in 1997, although he wasn't involved in the big occasion at Old Trafford when the Spireites drew 3-3 against their Premier League opponents before bowing out after a replay.

And even now, Lormor still gets his boots on occasionally.

He concluded: "I enjoy a kick-about and I've still got that competitive edge, you never lose that, and I have played a bit of over-40s football in Newcastle.

"But I still struggle with my knee. I played last Sunday, a mate of mine asked if I wanted to go along and the next thing you know I played the full match and I'm hobbling around, I can't get up the next morning, so I sent him a message asking at what stage I had been hit by a double-decker bus.

"I had bruised fingers and everything. It was a tough game, physical but nobody over-stepped the mark, just competitive.

"I missed a penalty and couldn't hit a barn door but apart from that I could run around and kick a few people."

His on-field talents may be deserting him, but his off-field drive and passion in the game is certainly still prevalent in his post-football career.

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